Join Whitney Johnson for an in-depth discussion in this video Telling your story, part of Entrepreneurship Foundations (2014).
- In order to persuade customers to buy your product, suppliers to provide lines of credit, banks to lend and investors to invest, you will need to tell your story. In crafting your story, the first thing you want to do is answer the question "Why? "Why did you start your company? "Why this product or service? "Why you?" Be patient with yourself during this process. Getting this story on paper when the startup is your brainchild and you've pored so much of your time, talent, and identity into the business can be surprisingly difficult.
To help you get started, I'll share with you the 30 Second Why of Nicole Hamilton, the CEO and founder of TacFi, a software platform that makes the mortgage process simple for both broker and buyer. When Nicole re-financed her home a few years ago, the process was opaque and she spent 12,000 dollars in unnecessary costs. She decided to build a software platform that would simplify the sale of mortgages so that others wouldn't have to experience the same pain and frustration.
As she notes, "For many, a home is the biggest "investment they will ever make. "If my expertise and concern for the customer "helps save them money and illuminate the process, "I've done my job." To help you figure out the why of your product, you may also want to ask your customers, "Why do they buy your product? "Why do your employees want to work at your company?" And when people engage with your brand on social media, what do they say? The second thing you will want to do is to make your message memorable.
There are a number of techniques you can employ to do this. Emmy Award-winning journalist, Kare Anderson, suggests that you use familiar slogans in fresh ways. Piggybacking on the famous "Got Milk?" slogan, a hospital in California launched a billboard campaign seeking blood donations with "Got Blood?". She also advises "startle with specifics", such as this from Bill Gates: "10 times as much funding is devoted to research "on the prevention of male baldness "as malaria, a disease that kills "more than one million people each year." Third, make it easy for people to share your story.
One of the best ways to do this, according to world-renowned pitch coach, Sam Horn, is to craft a rhythmic catchphrase people can repeat, word for word. The best way to craft an airtight sound bite is to use alliteration, iambic meter, or five syllables, and rhyme. For example, "Click it or ticket." is better than "Buckle up for safety." She also suggests that you come up with a business name that people get and enjoy the first time they hear it.
Zappos, Google, and Yahoo are fun to say. GPM Technologies and Sempran BioScience, are not. When people can repeat your story and delight in saying your name, they are more likely to become brand ambassadors. In terms of getting people to share your story online, in addition to putting your story in writing, tell your story with images and with videos. In an era where content marketing is king, for brands the content has become the ad.
As a startup, the best advertising you have is a compelling genesis story. Whether customer, supplier, lender, or investor, we want to buy from entrepreneurs with a passion for what they are doing. It's a given that you want to make money. And your business plan and financial model will help tease out the market opportunity and whether there's early traction. But it's the passion that predicts grit and staying power.
One of the best ways for a customer to gauge passion is to say, "Tell me your story."
- Cite the steps that can help you find an unmet need.
- Differentiate between a business and a hobby.
- Recognize how to decide between an online business and a brick and mortar business.
- Describe how to protect your intellectual property.
- Explain the best practices for hiring the right people.
- Recall the importance of tapping into networks of expertise.
- Cite the best practices for building a business website.
- Summarize the best metrics to use for your online business.